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South America has the most diverse group of wild canids in the world (canids are mammals of the dog family). There are 10 different species! But where did they come from? And how did they become so diverse? Also, why are some species really different from the others? We took DNA from 18 canids and sequenced their genomes. We also downloaded the genomes of 13 other wild canids that were already sequenced. Using computer software, we then looked through their genes. We discovered that all 10 species evolved from a single ancestor that came from North America using the newly formed Panama land bridge around 3.5 million years ago. As the ancestor spread through South America, it evolved into different species. This only took 2 million years – a blink of an eye for evolution! We were also excited to find the genes responsible for some of the wild canids’ unique adaptations.

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